'Millennial muscle' flexes for Midcoast Habitat

Jul 18, 2014
College students Lizzie Cox, left, of Camden, and Haley Turner of Warren are both volunteering this summer for Midcoast Habitat for Humanity.

Rockport — The past few weeks have seen a steady stream of hard-working volunteers giving their time and talents to Midcoast Habitat for Humanity, and not all of them are retirees with extra hours on their hands.

Instead, young twenty-somethings and older teens are pitching in by the dozens, helping to construct the group’s 26th home on Rockland’s Pine Street, and building a brighter future for the Cushman-Dodd family in the process.

First came a group of college students from Sunset Hills United Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pa., followed by high school students from St. Mary’s Parish in Shrewsbury, Mass. Australian Louis Copolov, a student at Northeastern University who was in town to visit a friend, gave a day at the site before flying home to Melbourne. This week a group of young builders from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Northborough, Mass. will work on the house, and at the end of the summer, students from Boston’s Emerson College arrive.

The groups — some of them making their second service trip to help MHFH — are guests of the Rockland Congregational Church, whose hospitality has included not only housing but weekly chili suppers. The volunteers have relished on-the-job lunches provided by area restaurants, including McDonald’s, Domino’s, Home Kitchen Café, Graffam Brothers, Black Board Deli, Brown Bag, Long Grain, L & H Burgers, Thorndike Creamery, Clan MacLaren’s, and Cappy’s. Both Rock City and Atlantic Baking Company have donated cookies.

But not all of the millennial generation’s volunteers have come “from away.” Oceanside East students involved in the school’s Jobs for Maine Grads program constructed walls back in June, and two star volunteers, Lizzie Cox of Camden and Haley Turner of Warren, have worked steadily all summer as MHFH interns, despite the demands of their paying summer jobs.

Cox graduated from Camden Hills and is entering her junior year at Ithaca College. Majoring in communication management and design, Cox been helping MHFH with graphic design, advertising, and public relations. She designed the poster for the group’s Home Sweet Home fundraiser taking place Thursday, Aug. 14, and will be writing the next installment of the newsletter, “Habitat Happenings.”

“I wanted to help with Habitat this summer to gain real world experience with publicity,” Cox said in a news release. “I hope to work at a nonprofit organization in the future, so I was very interested in getting experience at one and learning more about how they operate. It is amazing what Midcoast Habitat does for our local community, and it's very exciting to be involved.”

Turner, an alum of Medomak Valley, will be a senior this fall at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Active at the job site on Pine Street in Rockland, Haley views her volunteering through the lens of her college major, which is sociology.

“What drew me toward MHFH was the sense of community and passion the organization embodies,” she said. “I love that Habitat promotes affordable housing and sustainable living, but more importantly what I have seen in my short time is that it’s about uniting a group of people to form close knit communities no matter how far apart in age, income, distance, or language — a type of "neighbors without borders."

Both Cox and Turner have been valuable contributors to MHFH’s mission this summer, and Executive Director Tia Anderson hopes their example inspires others. “From construction, to the ReStore, to our many hardworking committees, there’s always room for volunteers at Midcoast Habitat,” she said. “Haley and Lizzie have given us a real boost, and gotten real-life experience in the process. Anyone who would like to follow their lead is welcome to help us out.”

For more information on volunteering for Midcoast Habitat, becoming a partner family, visiting the ReStore, or attending the Home Sweet Home event Aug. 14, see midcoasthabitat.org, or call Tia at 236-6171.

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